I don’t know if it’s the recent burst of summer-like weather that turned quickly cold, all the articles I’ve been reading about farm-to-table, farm fresh, farmers farmers farmers… or if it was the conversation over dinner at The Lazy Ox last week with two of my food friends about a new farming reality show–but my mind’s been back amongst the rows of last summer’s fava beans, beets and carrots.
I’m probably one of a million people right now in the U.S. dreaming about a different kind of getaway. One that includes the alien crunch of dirt under your feet, a dinner made entirely from the fruits of your day’s labor, and a night’s sleep so deep that you wake actually welcoming the day. A trip that leaves you seriously reconsidering freeways, elevators and the fluorescent lights that have begun to age you to a lovely patina of pale green.
Last summer for my birthday I took myself to upstate Washington for just such a getaway. I’d read a blurb about Quillisascut and its owners Rick and Lora Lea Misterly in an issue of Sunset Magazine and had it taped above my monitor for months. I figured a birthday was as good an excuse as any for telling my husband he’d be on his own for a week so I could strike out into some seriously unchartered territory.
I arrived feeling more than a little self conscious about being the only one from LA, the only one among the group to never have worked a vegetable garden or made homemade preserves and, more importantly, the only one having come alone.
My fellow vacation farmers were a different shade of culinary all together. These people had chickens in their backyard in Seattle, dabbled in cheesemaking in Spokane, and belonged to CSA’s in the Bay Area. They cooked with anything they could pull from the land. They knew their shit. I felt out-classed before I’d even started. I mostly kept my mouth shut, helped where I could and learned–learned oh so much.
Rick and Lora Lea, it turned out, were two relaxed gentle souls who lived to welcome people onto land they’d purchased in the ’70s, back when it was just the two of them, an old tent, a sheep dog and a few goats. What they’ve built is amazing. Still simple, but more real than most of us have ever experienced–and tasted. A concept that started out with a way to show chefs where their food came from evolved into a once-in-a-lifetime getaway for average Joes and Janes wanting to experience land the way it was meant to be experienced and taste food the way it was meant to taste. It’s a taste I’ll never forget.